Charlotte shootout: 4 slain officers serving warrant had 'great disadvantage,' expert says


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A routine law enforcement operation in Charlotte, North Carolina, that left four officers dead is “highly unusual,” according to a former U.S. Marshals task force member.

A deputy U.S. Marshal, two North Carolina Department of Corrections officers and a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) officer were fatally shot in the line of duty on Monday afternoon in east Charlotte while serving a search warrant for a felon in possession of a firearm at a single-family home on Galway Drive.

“It’s very unusual,” Terry Mikels, a former Durham-based U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) task force officer and a personal protection specialist with Executive Security Concepts, told Fox News Digital. “I can’t remember the last time in a 35-year career of law enforcement … [that] I’ve seen eight officers go down in one incident.”

Observing the scene of the shootout on Thursday, Mikels noted the suspect “who attacked these law enforcement officers had a higher ground,” shooting upon officers from the second floor of the house, from both the front and back sides.

CHARLOTTE POLICE CHIEF BREAKS DOWN REMEMBERING 4 SLAIN OFFICERS, SAYS SUSPECT HAD ‘EXTENSIVE’ CRIMINAL HISTORY

Investigators entering the scene of a Charlotte, North Carolina, shootout on Galway Drive

Investigators are shown Thursday at the scene of Monday’s shootout that left four officers dead after they tried to serve a warrant in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Audrey Conklin/Fox News Digital)

“So, as soon as they came in, they were already at a great disadvantage. And there’s a lot of concealment here, a lot of trees where the officers could hide behind, but it wasn’t covered. It wasn’t made to stop bullets. So, when they got on this property, they were already at a great disadvantage,” Mikels said.

The four slain officers have been identified as Deputy U.S. Marshal Thomas M. Weeks Jr.; North Carolina Department of Adult Correction (NCDAC) Officers Sam Poloche and William “Alden” Elliott, who were members of a USMS fugitive task force; and CMPD Officer Joshua Eyer. Four other officers were wounded in the line of duty on Monday afternoon.

CHARLOTTE SHOOTING: 4 LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS KILLED, 4 INJURED AS US MARSHALS TASK FORCE SERVED WARRANT

Deputy U.S. Marshal Thomas M. Weeks, Investigator William "Alden" Elliott, Police Officer Joshua Eyer and Investigator Samuel "Sam" Poloche

From left: Thomas M. Weeks, William “Alden” Elliott, Joshua Eyer and Samuel “Sam” Poloche were killed while trying to serve a warrant in Charlotte, North Carolina, on April 29, 2024. (U.S. Marshals Service via AP/NCDAC/Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department/Sean Rayford via AP/Getty Images)

The front of the house where the shootout occurred is merely a shell now, with almost half of its facade blown out by gunfire and possibly tools that investigators used to break down walls and recover ballistics used during the shooting, Mikels said. 

CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings on Tuesday said more than 100 rounds were fired between the suspect or suspects inside the house and responding officers. Investigators recovered an AR-15 and a .40-caliber handgun from the scene.

CHARLOTTE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS WHO DIED IN SHOOTOUT IDENTIFIED: ‘FOREVER INDEBTED’

The destroyed facade of the house on Galway Drive in Charlotte where a fatal shootout took place on Monday

The deadly shootout occurred at a house on Galway Drive in East Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday. (Audrey Conklin/Fox News Digital)

A window is blown out on the back of the house on Galway Drive in Charlotte

The suspect shot at officers from the second floor of the house on the front and back sides. (Audrey Conklin/Fox News Digital)

“Was their body armor strong enough to protect from an AR round? We don’t know,” Mikels said. “Did they have ceramic plates in there? We don’t know. Was that a result of department cutbacks? We don’t know. Did they have ballistic helmets to stop these rounds? We don’t know. So, we can only speculate at this point. But what I do know is that these were brave men that came out here to do a job to protect this neighborhood and these citizens. And it’s just a tragedy in every sense of the word. So, we need to work harder to protect them.”

“[T]hese were brave men that came out here to do a job to protect this neighborhood and these citizens.”

— Terry Mikels

Suspect Terry Clark Hughes Jr., 39, died at the scene Monday after firing at officers from the second floor of his Galway Drive home, on the front and back side, Jennings said. Two additional persons of interest – both female, one only 17 years old – were taken into custody. Authorities have yet to determine whether there are any additional suspects who can be charged in connection with the mass shooting.

Bullet holes seen on the siding of the house where the Charlotte shootout took place

More than 100 rounds were fired during the fatal Charlotte shootout. (Audrey Conklin/Fox News Digital)

“[T]hey’re trying to get an answer to many … questions of how in the world’s name did eight of our officers get hurt? What can we do to prevent this tragedy from happening again? Did the officers have all the equipment training preparations planned? Did the second wave of officers that may have come in to try to conduct rescues? Why were they ambushed coming in, trying to help their fellow officers?” Mikels said.

Investigators with the U.S. Marshals Service and other law enforcement agencies were observing the scene on Thursday morning. Multiple windows had been blown out, and bullet holes marked the siding of the house.

Charlotte officer crouch behind a police vehicle on Galway Drive

Charlotte residents were shocked by the deaths of four law enforcement officers in Monday’s shootout. (Charlotte resident)

The U.S. Marshals fugitive task force that served the warrant on Monday consists of officers from 16 different agencies, Jennings said during a Tuesday press conference. 

CHARLOTTE RESIDENTS SHOCKED AFTER 4 LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS DIE, 4 OTHERS INJURED IN SHOOTOUT

A window is blown out on the back of the house on Galway Drive in Charlotte

The U.S. Marshals fugitive task force that served the warrant on Monday consists of officers from 16 different agencies, Jennings said during a Tuesday press conference.  (Audrey Conklin/ Fox News Digital)

“You get officers from outlying jurisdictions to come in and help you do apprehensions. But everybody’s level of training is different. Everybody has certain talents they bring to a team, and then they usually go under the Marshals’ jurisdiction, and we’ll get some type of training from them,” Mikels explained. “How in-depth that is … I can’t really speak to, but you would hope that they would have all the training and equipment necessary.”

President Biden visited Charlotte on Thursday to meet the fallen officers’ families and members of CMPD.

“We must do more to protect our law enforcement officers.”

— President Biden

“We must do more to protect our law enforcement officers,” the president said in a Monday statement. “That means funding them – so they have the resources they need to do their jobs and keep us safe. And it means taking additional action to combat the scourge of gun violence. Now. Leaders in Congress need to step up so that we ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, require safe storage of guns and pass universal background checks and a national red flag law. Enough is enough.”

President Joe Biden salutes Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chief Johnny Jennings, as he arrives on Air Force One at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Charlotte, N.C.

“We must do more to protect our law enforcement officers,” President Biden said on Monday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Jennings thanked Biden for his support.

“Thank you to @POTUS for stopping in to meet with our officers and families of fallen officers today,” he said in a Thursday post on X. “I have been so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support this entire week. It has been one of the toughest weeks for all of @CMPD but to know that we have the support of our country all the way up to the highest office means so much.”

Hughes had an “extensive” criminal record out of multiple counties and had spent a significant amount of time in jail, according to North Carolina public records and Chief Jennings.

Police Chief Johnny Jennings wipes away tears as he speaks at a press conference

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings wipes away tears as he speaks at a press conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, on April 30, 2024, regarding the shooting that killed four officers during an attempt to serve a warrant on April 29. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

“What I’ll say is that our system is not completely where it needs to be, but … I really think we’re overwhelmed. We’re overwhelmed in the court system. Our district attorney is overwhelmed with the docket that we see within Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and I don’t have an answer for that,” Jennings said when asked about why many of the suspect’s priors had been dismissed.

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Jennings said it is unclear if the gunshots came from more than one suspect, and police are working to determine if there was a second shooter and whether any additional charges will be filed.

“As more and more comes out about this incident, not only when you see how brave they were,” USMS Director Ron Davis said Tuesday. “You will see examples of their courage and bravery. Let there be no mistake. They represent the best of us. They are truly America’s finest, and it’s just an honor to serve with them.”



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